Monday 12 April 2021
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Total neglect for mental health

“There’s need to integrate the mental health services into the existing health amenities, train and equip the health care providers at all levels to acquire knowledge and skills to mental health patients.”
Psychiatrist and Head of Department at the Mental Healthcare Centre (MHC), Dr Hileni Ndjaba said this during an interview this week.
She identified resources as the main challenge at mental health care centres, which includes manpower, skills, budget, medications, stigma and discrimination, patient rejection and the chronic nature of some mental disorders.
The lack of funds to pay for construction, renovation and the improvement of the centres, to purchase furniture and office equipment has also hampered the provision of adequate mental health service.
The limited budget has significantly derailed the ministry’s plans to set up new facilities to cater for the increasing psychiatric patients.
Currently, there are about 100 patients in need of forensic mental health services (individuals with a mental disorder, including neurodevelopmental disorders) but they cannot be admitted due to a limited space at the forensic unit.
Ndjaba said there is an urgent need for the expansion of the forensic unit, further proposing the need for the construction of civil psychiatric facilities.
“The mental health care centres have open doors for everyone who seem to experience any type of mental health problems. People should always approach us for advice when they need to be given guidelines on how to deal with their condition. I personally feel before people start believing the myths and misconceptions around the mental health care, they should first seek professional help,” she underlined.
Schizophrenia is one of the most common psychotic disorder which is characterised by hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing things that are seen by others), delusions which are fixed false beliefs and the thought disorder which lead to functional impairment.
This can also occur in the absence of organic disease, alcohol or drug related disorders and it is not secondary elevation or depressed mood.
Research has shown that the biological factors such as genes and inheritability as well as the use of cannabis or psychostimulants are some of the perpetuating factors.
Recent increases in the rate of suicidal attempts and actual suicides in Namibia have caused a great deal of concern.
There appears to be a shift toward the younger age group especially with regard to the increase in the suicide and murder rates, she said.
“In order to reduce mental health disorders in Namibia, I feel there’s a need to create awareness about the possible cause of mental illness, the preventative methods by avoiding things that precipitate and perpetuate the development of mental disorders,” she noted.
She further stated that people with mental health problems should seek medical attention as soon as possible and also they learn how to deal with stigma among all patients and the caregivers.
There’s also a need to give emotional support to the patients and caregivers.
“The government has been offering free treatment to people who are suffering from mental illness and it has provided enough rehabilitation facilities as well as mental health centres for the country,” she concluded.
By 2021, government plans to construct a mental health centre at Nankudu, Windhoek Central Hospital, Keetmanshoop and Oshakati Intermediate Hospitals.

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